Link

Its been a really busy month for us – but I would say that for every month!

There have been some been changes across the Borough and especially the move towards merging with Richmond Borough, and changes locally with lower crime figures announced, work on Tooting Common Heritage project and a make-over announced for Stapleton Road. News on the new 20 MPH zone, Tooting Athletics Track, Tooting Common Cafe, Balham Lesuire Centre Creche, Balham Boulevard and Tooting Lodge and Battersea Sport Centre is all below.

March Dates for your diary

The second Tooting International Women’s Day coffee morning hosted by Sadiq Khan MP will be on Thursday 5th March at 11am at Mushkil Aasaan, 220 Tooting High Road. There will be cake and chat with lots of local women. It was really inspiring last year and everyone – including babies and children – is very welcome.

This Wednesday (4th March) is the next Neighbourhood Network Coffee morning from 10am – 1pm in the Scout Hut on Balham High road and free toddler Rhyme Time from 9.30 – 10am.

Next Labour Councillors surgery: 21st March from 10am – 11am at Balham Library. No appointment needed – just drop in.

The general election is less than 10 weeks away. Are you registered to vote? If not, you can register online at www.gov.uk

Twenty's Plenty SignThe 20 MPH limit zone will come into force in March – but signs won’t be put up until later, which doesn’t entirely make sense so we’ll be pushing for some signs to show the new situation as soon as possible. We’re really proud of this campaign to bring the 20MPH zone to our area, and all the hours of asking local people and collecting signatures have been really worthwhile. What’s more, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)’s February briefing published further guidance showing how effective 20 MPH zones are in encouraging road safety and especially in protecting children and young people. We’ll keep working with the council to make sure that it does work in this way for us. Make-over for Stapleton Road – and could it be your road too?

Cllr Rosena Allin-Khan, Sadiq Kahn MP, Cllr Fleur Anderson and Stapleton Road resident Joel Down

Cllr Rosena Allin-Khan, Sadiq Kahn MP, Cllr Fleur Anderson and Stapleton Road resident Joel Down

In 2013 a consultation was held on the creation of a ‘Tooting Bec village’. A list of proposals have been put together and these include the introduction of a contra-flow cycle lane, cycle parking outside Tooting Bec tube station, improving the signage for the one-way system already in place to make sure it is followed, de-cluttering the street by removing some street furniture and widening and improving the footpaths along the whole length of the road. There will be some trees built along the road too!

The council will be in touch soon to consult residents’ views of these proposals, and we would encourage everyone to make sure you have your say. If the majority of residents support the plans, we will start seeing the work begin this summer.

However there is one concern that the council’s proposals does not address. We know there are concerns that residents in the area, within the same parking zone, are parking on Stapleton Road to access the station – which means there isn’t space for residents to park on their own road. This needs to be tackled and we have called on the council to review the matter. The council have asked for evidence that this is a concern to Stapleton Road residents, before they’ll conduct any investigations. If you agree that parking on your road is a problem, please visit www.sadiqkhan.org.uk_Stapleton_Road_Parking and add your support for a review.

If you don’t live on Stapleton Road and would like similar action on your road, then do get in touch with us: fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk, rallinkhan@wandsworth.gov.uk

Poisoning of dogs on Tooting Common? We have heard the rumours of the dog poisonings near the Triangle Area of the Common, and it was mentioned in an article in The Spectator, I had sought information from the local police and Council officers but they had not had reports about these, and we discussed this in the Management Advisory Committee of the Tooting Common meeting recently. Since then other local members of the committee have followed up with local vets and we are seeking to find out more about whether these happened and exactly where. If you have any information or have reason to be suspicious please do call 101, and everyone should be extra careful around that area but is a real concern to all users of the Common.

Tooting Common Heritage Project

IMG_5911I joined many other local representatives of groups at a consultation meeting last week. A 10 year management plan for the Common is being worked on, and there will be money to pay for new ideas from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There was an on-line and household survey, consultation meetings and they want to hear your views in any way they can! What would you like to see happening to improve the Common? They would really love to see any historical photos of the Common too.

Events next month are:

Tuesday 17th Mar:Visitor Surveying 12 – 2 pm
The Bee Survey* 2-3 pm

Thursday 19th Mar: Visitor Surveying 12 – 2 pm Butterfly Training* Survey 2-4 pm.

Sunday 29th Mar: The Bee Survey* 1-2 pm
 Butterfly Training* Survey 2-4pm. IMG_5913

To receive the newsletter, for more info on these events and to send in your old pictures or views on the Common, do get in touch by email with Andrew Harby, the project facilitator, at aharby@wandsworth.gov.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Our area IS a Safer Neighbourhood – but watch out for postal theft on Heritage Park At the Safer Neighbourhood meeting we were pleased to hear of lower crime rates in the ward and congratulations t the local police team. There are concerns about theft from post boxes on Heritage Park. Not only theft of items delivered, but information that can be used for identity theft. Please be extra aware of this and call 101 if you see anything suspicious.

Merger with Richmond Council? There are plans to merge administrative functions of the two Councils. There would still be two elected sets of Councillors making decisions separately, and separate frontline staff that we would see in our own Town Halls and areas, but other staff and services for the two may be merged to make cost reductions. This will be discussed at the Council meeting on Wednesday March 4th and much more about the impact of these plans must be made known. You can find out more and feed into the consultations on the consultation page of the Wandsworth Council website or with the link here: https://consult.wandsworth.gov.uk/KMS/dmart.aspx?strTab=PublicDMartCurrent&NoIP=1

Tooting Athletics Track latest news Public concern did change council policy. Following the large petition received by the Council will huge concern about keeping the track affordable, the Council are still opening the lease for tender but will be keeping control of the prices. Obviously no guarantee but a far better option.

Balham Lesuire centre creche

The creche at Balham lesuire centre is saved!

The creche at Balham lesuire centre is saved!

Thanks to some fast action by local mums, we’ve been able to raise the potential issue of the creche closing after the refurbishment with the council an lesuire centre. As a result it is promised that the creche will be moved and continue to be offered. However, user numbers are far lower that they should be given demand and need for this service. I used to use this creche so know how fantastic it is to have this and how popular it used to be in when it was in a more prominent position. So we will keep working with local mums and asking that: 1. It should be reopened after the refurbishment 2. It should be better publicised so that more parents can use this, especially when the newly refurbished lesuire centre is being publicised 3. The new room should be able to have a crèche which opens for more hours if demand increases.

 

Tooting Lodge

Cllr Fleur Anderson and Cllr Rex Osbourne deploring the crumbling state of the Lodge a few months ago - nothing much has changed

Cllr Fleur Anderson and Cllr Rex Osborn deploring the crumbling state of the Lodge a few months ago – nothing much has changed

The lovely little white gardeners lodge on Tooting High Road remains in a state of disrepair and building works by the owner seem to have ground to a halt. The deadline of the repairs notice from the Council is in March and we will be urging the Council to make an immediate assessment and be prepared to take the action needed to save the lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

Tooting Common Cafe – new lease is up for tender

Could this be a community cafe!

Could this be a community cafe!

The new lease is for 15 years and includes be able to improve the cafe site and add toilets (phew). There will be a rolling short-term lease to the current owner until the new leaseholder (or the current one) takes it on. In the meantime community bids and others are all very welcome. http://propertylink.estatesgazette.com/property-details/5947975-tooting-bec-common-cafe-tooting-bec-common-london-sw12-9hj

Balham Boulevard

Plans to improve the road between Balham and Tooting Bec Stations have gone quiet, but are being prepared for consultation with residents soon – early in 2015 was the plan. It is a priority for us to get this to happen and to involve the whole community so we’ll be meeting the Council officers and watch this space for the new plans for a people friendly space.

Battersea Sports Centre

This is far away from our area of Balham and Tooting, but I’m on the Committee which had to decide about the future of this fantastic sports centre in an area of Battersea which really needs this sports and community centre and doesn’t have anything like it. I was so impressed to hear about how the centre has become a centre for excellence in Basketball and many other sports, offers sports for all ages, and is really popular with young people. Building a community is more extreely valuable and once taken away can’t be replaced. The reason given was is to provide homes for the people from the neighbouring Winstanly Estate whilst it is being redeveloped – but this could have been done in other ways as was orginally planned. The true value of the Sports Centre to the community centre was just not given priority. There were excellent representations to the Committee and a packed public gallery, but Conservative members of the committee decided to close the sports centre and it was hugely disappointing. However, the campaign continues and I hope will be sucessful in changing this decision.

January news

Baby News!!

The best news is that Rosena had a baby girl last month, Layla Maria, and they are both doing really well.

Do you use Tooting Common at all?

Have you got a few minutes to fill in this questionnaire? It would be great to get as many responses as possible to get feedback on how the Council can improve the Common. I’ve filled it and included a request for public toilets near the playground. The deadline is February 6th.

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/841/historic_sites_and_monuments/1903/tooting_common_heritage_project/4

Christmas tree chaos!!

Lots of local residents were annoyed at the amount of time we were all dodging Christmas trees on the pavements this year, and that trees weren’t collected from front gardens even when they finally went from the streets. I’ve been passing on lots of emails and complaints and hope that next year we can have more information about when they will actually be taken to avoid this happening again. The Council do a great job of clearing 139,000 trees in a fortnight, but with better information this could be a better service.

More, closer surgeries and ways to be in touch with us

Up to now Councillors surgeries have been held in far-off Tooting Library, but we’ve wanted to have much more opportunities for anyone to contact us. We’re very active at responding to emails, meeting with residents and going and speaking with people on the doorsteps most weekends (last weekend we were speaking with residents of Carminia and Childebert Roads, during the week we will be visiting Larch Close). We’re also on twitter: @DrRosena and @CllrFleur

Now we’ve started monthly surgeries at Balham library – do just come along. Our first surgery was last Saturday, and future dates are from 11am – 12 noon on Saturday February 21st, Saturday March 21st and April 18th.

 Wheatsheaf

Its not closing! The leaseholders were Antic but they gave up their lease at the end of Janaury and the owenrs, Enterprize, have given assurances that another company will be taking on the lease (maybe Youngs?) and that it will continue to be our community pub.

More information is here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/future_of_much_loved_pub_is_safe_owners_reassure_sadiq

 Tooting Bec Lesuire Centre refurbishment – what about the creche?

Tooting Bec Lesuire centre is due to be refurbished very soon and I’m really looking forward to the resulting improvements in the changing rooms and the addition of a sauna. However future plans for the creche are less clear as the current creche room will be used for something else in the current plans. At the request of local mums who are only able to use the Lesuire centre because of the creche I am following up on this.

No ParkRun Yet

Since the decision that ParkRun could start organising runs on the Common and wouldn’t need to pay, ParkRun haven’t progressed this with the Council yet so there is no sign of these starting soon – unfortunately.

Family offered accommodation in West Bromwich

As featured in the Wandsworth Guardian this week, some local families are indeed being offered accomodation in the West Midlands despite having no connection there at all. I’ve been supporting a family facing this traumatic ‘offer’ which will break up the family and take the mum away from studies and her job, childcare, support networks and chance to support her family.

Action to repair the Lodge on Tooting Bec Road

There has been a lot of concern about the lovely, old white building on Tooting Bec Road which used to be a garden centre, was bought by a developer some years ago and seems to be falling into disrepair. Following public pressure, the Council has now served a notice requiring the owner to carry out urgent repairs or face the prospect of legal action. Workmen have since been seen on the roof – watch this space, and do add any news of work if you see it in the comments below.

In the last couple of weeks there have been lots of decisions made about Tooting Common and other issues coming up, so here’s a round up. I’m on the Common most days and I’m also on the Council Committee where most of these are decided and which met last Thursday. So I’ll continue to be active in seeing our Common improved. As always, comments on any of these are very welcome here or by email fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk

Rosena is due to have her baby in the coming week so best wishes to her and her family, and I’m looking forward to hearing the good news soon!

Tooting Common Athletics Track and Gym

The Council has decided to seek expressions of interest for the Tooting Common Athletics track to be under private management. This has serious implications for maintaining the current affordability and accessibility for all that makes the track so well used and loved. In the past two years the track has made impressed improvements in its income (partly the ‘Olympic effect’) and has is used by all local schools.

St Anslems Sports Day at the track last Summer

St Anselms Sports Day at the track last Summer

Under current plans this will be part of a big deal for lots of lesiure facilities to be part of a ‘staff mutual’ from next September – not Council run but not a private company either – from next September. This looks like a good option for keeping the Track affordable and accessible as it is now. The Council had looked at the two tracks it currently has (one in Battersea) and considered just keeping one and making the other redundant. It is likely the Tooting one would have been ‘redundant’. This has now been ruled out as the needs of Herne Hill Harriers and the clubs that use the Battersea track are too much for one track.

We have worked with the Furzedown Councillors to make the plans public and facilitate more feedback from local people and users of the track, and to get more information about the plans as they were being drawn up – rather than further down the line when papers go to Committee. We have a petition and called a public meeting organised by the Furzedown councillors. Do sign the petition here to show your concern and hear the latest news and ways you can be involved: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/keep_tooting_bec_athletics_track_running

The campaign

The campaign will continue

I am very disappointed that the private management of the track is being considered, and has been done so with so little consultation with local users up to this point, and given the existing plans for the staff mutual. There is too high a risk that prices will go up, access for as many people as possible will be secondary to profit, and a piece of our Common will be less accessible to local people.

The campaign to keep the track running will continue, and we hope to see a lot more openness from the Council about this process and others. It feels like this is the first of many cuts to come in the next couple of years, and whilst these are inevitable there should be done in conversation with the people who use the services and pay for them from our Council tax, not more secret plans and lack of information and consultation about ways in which we can reduce costs but still keep what matters most to us – not just a few people in Town Hall making choices based on finances alone.

ParkRun

This is a great national scheme of local, free volunteer-run, timed 5km runs on Saturday mornings, and would be a great use of the Common for more people and encourage more of us to exercise – there is junior ParkRun too. Over 800 people signed a petition to bring ParkRun to Wandsworth and it would most likely be on Tooting Common, and I’m very supportive of this. Of course there needs to be very good marshalling, other users must have priority over the runners, and no littering. But they operate hundreds of runs in other parks all over the country on this basis very successfully – and its just from 9am – 10.30am on Saturday mornings.

We discussed this for an hour at the Committee as the Council are proposing reducing the fee charged as they are volunteers, and paying this sum from the public health budget given the large demand and clear health benefits. However, they said that ParkRun do not have agreements with any other Council based on fees being paid and are worried that this might start a precedent and new way of working which they can’t sustain on their volunteer-led basis. The Committee voted in favour of ParkRun coming to Wandsworth at first on a six month trial. I hope that the contract can be worded in such a way that the Council supports ParkRun and ParkRun are happy that the funding is sorted out internally in the Council’s budgets and separately to their agreement.

Café – could it become a Community Café?

Tooting Common Cafe - new 15 year lease could means changes?

Tooting Common Cafe – new 15 year lease could mean changes?

Is has been agreed that the café will be put out for a new tender for a 15 year lease which the current manger or another company could be successful in winning. The contract will need to include work on an extension to include a new toilet (or toilets?) which will be open to the public. I added a need for baby changing facilities in the café which I was pleased to count as a small victory!

I’ve already spoken with someone who is interested in thinking about bidding for this contract as a local community group – contact me if you would be interested and I can share any information I receive.

Policing of the Common to be reduced

Based on the need to make savings and crime figures as a Council, the policing of all the Parks and Commons will be moved from the Met to the Parks service and the number of staff to do this will be reduced. I do have continuing concerns that being based in Battersea reduces the amount of patrolling we have on Tooting Common, and that crime is falling elsewhere but rising on the Common. So I will be watching these changes with some nervousness. It did come to light that one of the police staff lives on the Common and patrols it as part of their accommodation contract.

Tooting History Project – could you be a local investigator?

I went to the kick-off meeting for this project which has money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will be applying for a million pounds after this year’s work too. There is so much we don’t know about the very interesting history of the Common and in the next few months the project will bring together volunteers to delve into history and share what they find. This could be about historical myths such as trees planted when Queen Elizabeth visited, events such as what happened during the war, how the Common was saved as Common land, or the history of some of the things on the Common – and lots more. Volunteers are being offered training and can do as little as an hour, and all contributions will be written up by a historian and acknowledged. To find out more or volunteer, please contact the volunteer coordinator Andrew Harby: aharby@wandsworth.gov.uk

Litter on the Common

Yuck - some of some much litter around the frog ponds

Yuck – some of some much litter around the frog ponds

I don’t know about you, but I think the amount of litter on the Common has gone up, especially around the frog ponds but also in lots of the woods and bushes. The group of local people who take concerns to the Council are the Tooting Common Management Advisory Committee, which I’m a member of, and they are raising this with Council as I will continue to do.

 

 

 

 

 

The great White Line debate

IMG_5028The white line on the paths to separate cyclists from pedestrians must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and seems to be a very good way to enable both lots of people to use the path through the Common past the playground. However it has caused lots of problems and many arguments and not helped either pedestrians (and wandering dogs and children) or cyclists who feel they should be able to have more a free run on the path that then realistically can. Given that this is Common land, this needs to be settled by the Secretary of State who had a hearing and it was ruled that the white line will be removed, the path desegregated and cycling very much still allowed but the over-riding principle of all users giving way to each other made a priority. The line should go and more signs encouraging considerate cycling and use of the path should be coming to the Common.

Link

Great support for the flash protest at the Athletics Track

Flash protest at Tooting Athletics TrackThe campaign to keep the Tooting Common Athletics Track and gym open and affordable is in full swing! Rosena and I are working with the Furzedown Councillors to show public support for the track and find out from the Council what is going on.

The petition is going really well, and if you sign you can receive the latest information about the campaign to save the Track from closure or being taken over by a private company who will make it too expensive for most people to visit. Please sign the petition: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/keep_tooting_bec_athletics_track_running?utm_campaign=enews_31_10_14&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sadiqkhan

Rosena, myself, Cllr Candida Jones, Cllr Mark Thomas, presenter Nicky Campbell, Herne Harriers coach James and Sadiq Khan MP

Rosena, myself, Cllr Candida Jones, Cllr Mark Thomas, presenter Nicky Campbell, Herne Harriers coach James and Sadiq Khan MP (I made the sign myself!)

We had a great flash protest at the track today – thanks so much to everyone who came. There were at least 200 people there – including Sadiq Khan MP, local
Councillors, Nicky Campbell, lots of Herne Hill Harriers and coaches, and local supporters of our services in the Common staying ours.

As Sadiq Khan Said, the track is ours now and we want to keep it this way, and this is a campaign which we can unite behind as a community. My neighbour came to the protest and said how much she and her three sons use the track, and how much it is used by the whole community from all walks of life.

The council have said that they are starting to look into options and one of these is having a staff mutual. These will be proposed more and more by the Council as a halfway house between being fully funded and being cut – instead a group of staff from a company and take on the contract, although this is protected for them for only two years and then goes out to open tender which they may or may not win.

Sadiq Khan and local Councillors are organising an open meeting this Wednesday from 7.30 – 8.30 at St Pauls Church, Chillerton Rd, Furzedown – do come and find out more information – I’ve certainly got a lot more to learn about staff mutuals and what the risks are for the future of the track.

Great support for the track at the flash protest today #keepthetrackrunning

Great support for the track at the flash protest today #keepthetrackrunning

Wheatsheaf news

Latest news from the Wheatsheaf pub, which I’ve been leading a local campaign to keep as a local pub in its lovely 100 year old building. The current leaseholders will be finishing their lease at the end of Janaury. Antic have run the pub brilliantly and its now a place which anyone can enjoy (even if you want a cup of tea!) and is a community hub. Its a real shame and I just really hope that another great company will take it on and soon!

Flytipping and rubbish

rubbish smallRosena and I were really pleased to see the local Guardian highlight the major concerns about the amount of flytipping and rubbish on our streets. Generally street cleaning is very good, but there are a few hot spots which are regularly dumped on, and it’s one of the main things we are asked to ask the Council to take action on. Do keep letting us know if this is a problem for you.

 

 

 

Veronica Road – proposed development

Together with many residents of Veronica Road, Rosena and I successfully objected to a new development on the site of garages at the top end of the road. The decision to refuse planning permission is now being appealed – do contact us soon if you’d like further information.

Would you want more of a say on how council budget is spent in the ward?

Fleur and I are often out and about listening to people’s concerns and something we regularly ask ourselves is, what do local residents really want and need in order to feel they are heard?

One debate that has arisen recently in the town hall is the idea that perhaps allocating a pot of funding to each ward specifically, with local people having more of a say, would actually encourage people to feel empowered and more engaged?

A small pot of money could be beneficial at a ward level for councillors to identify initiatives or groups that would struggle to make applications and would benefit from even a modest amount of money. Examples could include carers groups, looking for a little bit of money to rent a venue for meetings, or some new equipment for a children’s centre.

This has been done with varying degrees of success in other Boroughs. Is this something you would want? If you have an opinion, do let us know by replying to this blog post or sending us a tweet.

School sibling consultation, and Tooting Athletics Track may be cut

School sibling policy consultation

Feelings are running very high about the plans change the sibling policy for schools admission. If you have an opinion on this, or experience of how it would affect you, please send in your views to the consultation by October 31st 

Please encourage other parents to send in their views too.

Primary school admissions bookletWould this have split up your family if applied to you, or is it a fair solution to a problem which leaves parents unable to get into very local schools?

Here is the link to submit your views:

www.wandsworth.gov.uk/admissionsconsultation

This is from the Wandsworth Council website:

“The council is proposing that sibling priority should only apply in future to children who live within 800 metres of the school. Siblings residing further away would no longer have priority over children living closer.

Data from the 2014 round of admissions show that of 712 children who were offered a place at a community school on the basis of sibling priority, 174 lived more than 800 metres away from the school

The council believe the proposed approach would strike a fairer balance as the majority of families with siblings would not be affected by the change.

If, after consultation, the change is agreed, the council will urge church schools and other state schools responsible for their own admissions, like academies and foundation schools, to consider similar changes.

To find out more about the proposal and to take part in the consultation parents can visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/admissionsconsultation. The consultation will run until Friday, October 31.”

Leaked document show major cuts to come

Tooting Athletics Track was on a leaked document showing some of the potential cuts to services to come in the next couple of years. Other cuts could be libraries, day centres and Battersea Lesuire Centre. These were the focus of the Council meeting last week and the Conservative Leader couldn’t deny that any cuts could be possible. We will oppose cuts to crucial front line services that don’t need to be made, so watch this space.

Save The Lodge, Ravenstone School cycling and Barringer Square

Save The Lodge on Tooting Bec Road

The Lodge on Tooting Bec Road is the lovely white building which used to be a garden centre and is now surrounding by hoardings and falling into disrepair. It is listed by English Heritage and there has been a local group working to save this building for three years.

Fleur and Rex deploring the crumbling state of the Lodge

Councillors Fleur and Rex deploring the crumbling state of the Lodge

Permission was given to a developer for retail use and a separate café. However no work has been started and there is a lot of concern about the building locally from those who live nearby and the many who walk past the building everyday.

However there is good news now that the Council will be putting more pressure on the owners to repair the building. Rosena and I have met with one of the group members and will do all we can to support this campaign, and to urge the Council to do all it can to preserve the building and enable a developer to return it to its former glory.

In looking into the building I have been told by local history guru – and Labour group leader, Councillor Rex Osborn, that the building is the gardeners lodge for a former large house here, but is all that remains of the estate.

 

Fleur cycling at Ravenstone

 Ravenstone School promotes cycling

On Monday Ravenstone School parents and volunteers had a great event to celebrate national car free day and promote cycling. A family was escorted on their bikes to school from Furzedown, and given tips on cycling. One tip was to keep out into the road more and ‘own the road’. I normally spend my time shouting ‘keep in!’ to my cycling children so I learnt a lot too. In the playground there was a bike which also makes smoothies (see the picture – I had to have a go too!) was put into action by Sustrans and children were given smoothies and fruit – both of which were really popular. It was a great idea and one we’ll share with the other local schools.

 

Anti-social behaviour on Barringer Square

Rosena and I regularly visit local streets with our local MP Sadiq Khan to introduce ourselves and hear people’s concerns and issues. When we visited Barringer Square recently, the main issue brought up was the anti-social behaviour of people coming to the area and hanging around in stairwells. As a result I have raised this with the Council and they will be sending letter will be sent to residents about this and encouraging more information, and there will be additional attention given to this. At the Safer Neighbourhood Meeting on Monday I raised this as a concern, and the local police have agreed to make this a priority area, alongside others such as theft from vehicles across the ward.

Good news on the 20 MPH zone, and your views on Tooting Common

Twenty's Plenty SignYesterday we got some great news on our campaign to have a 20 MPH zone and increase road safety in our streets. The Council have told us that the recent consultation showed that there is huge support from residents in Balham and Tooting Bec, and they are proposing that this will be agreed. Lots of residents will remember us asking if they would be interested in signing the petition for this – and this big change is the result so we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to listen to the Community on an issue that matters to a lot of people, and get action from the Council as a result. Big thanks for all the support of our local MP, Sadiq Khan, and of the Councillors in Furzedown where there will also be a new 20 MPH zone.

What would it mean? Bedford 20MPH ZoneNot only will there be a 20 MPH speed limit in the streets off the main road, but there will be other measures to increase road safety. Even better, at the same time money from Transport for London will be used to improve the condition of all the roads in the zone. This will mean one of the most significant investments in our ward in recent times.

What happens next? This needs to be agreed by the Wandsworth Council Community Service Committee which meets on 25th September. I’m on the committee so no surprises which way I’ll be voting, and I hope the other members agree.

Plans to upgrade the sports pitch at the Triangle – what do you think?

tooting_triangle_bigger During the summer the Council announced plans to lease off the youth centre and football pitch on the Common for 25 years. The leaseholder would upgrade the very run down and hardly used pitch, improve the floodlights and use the youth centre as changing rooms. As this happened over the summer and is controversial in several ways, I wrote to ask for a longer time for consultation and the Council have agreed to extend until the end of the month. The controversial aspects are the Boxing Club being asked to leave their current home, the plans to extend the size of the football pitch by 25% to enable two 7-a-side pitches next to each other and taking up more of the common land, the potential disturbance of local residents from the lights and from extra people parking nearby. Comments can be emailed to HCSDirectorate@wandsworth.gov.uk or put in writing and addressed to The Director of Housing and Community Services 17-27 Garratt Lane London SW18 4AE. 
 Do let Rosena and I know your views too. More information here.

The Tooting Common White Line Debate – inquiry later this month
20 MPH Zone There is a national public enquiry into the issue of whether there should be a white line segregating the pedestrian and cycling sides of the path across the common. I think that cyclists will go more slowly if there isn’t a line and neither side feels it is ‘my side’ when in reality small children and dogs go between both sides so its not safe. The enquiry is happening at 10am on Tuesday September 30th in the Town Hall, and you can write in with your views and/or ask to speak to the enquiry: National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 7AR quoting reference NATTRAN/L/CT/12

Wandsworth’s Secret Army of Carers

Stay Well At Home Service, Evesham, BritainIn my role on the Health and Adult Care Committee, I have been learning all about Wandsworth’s secret army of carers, who work tirelessly around the clock to care for friends and family. Until now, I never realised the full impact of the health inequalities facing carers in Wandsworth and all over the UK.

Studies show a staggering 61% of carers suffer with depression, unable to maintain a life of their own, while on duty around the clock. Due to the demands and pressure of their role, they experience poor physical health including injury and clinical illness as a result of being so run down.

The Wandsworth Carers Strategy has highlighted that 21% of Carers, providing in excess of 50 hours of care per week believe themselves to be in poor health. This is significant when compared to 8% of non-Carers.

A UK-wide survey has Carers connecting with carersshown that 1 in 5 of emergency admissions to hospital could have been prevented in cases where a person was receiving care from a family member. Furthermore, the source of this prevention has been found to be increased support for carers.

Undoubtedly this use of emergency provision has a financial impact and places strain on NHS services that are already stretched beyond capacity, with significant knock on effects.

  • 1 in 8 people in the UK, equating to a total of 6.5 million, are unpaid carers. The cost to the British Economy is an astounding £1.3bn in lost taxes and benefits.
  • An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work to care for a loved one as services were not flexible enough to accomodate them working and taking on a caring role.
  • For those whom have tried desperately to maintain a job in order to fund their family, one third have been forced to give up work or reduce hours because the right services and support was not available for them.
  • Last year, 44% of carers have cut back on heating and 45% have cut back on food. They simply could not afford it.

In Tooting Bec and Balham, let us support them in any way we can. If you have a neighbour or a friend that is a carer, pop in for a chat, say hello and remember that the conversation we have with them that day, may be the only one they have.

CC images courtesy of British Red Cross and Social Innovation Camp on Flickr

Latest threat to the Wheatsheaf – comments needed by 25th August

Campaigners supporting The WheatsheafMy husband knows way more than me about the Wheatsheaf, having visited a lot more regularly than me for many years! He used to go when it was a very Irish pub and quite a different atmosphere too. For the past year I’ve been campaigning to Save the Wheatsheaf because I like this historic building at the centre of Tooting Bec and I don’t like identikit high streets. All of the over 9,000 who signed the campaign petition have all sorts of different reasons too – but united by wanting to save this building as a pub.

Rumours of a supermarket takeover last Summer started the campaign and I organised the first public meeting and have been in the campaign group ever since. Together we have pushed for Council protection for the pub, and now there is an unprecedented set of protection measures in place – it is locally listed as a historic building, it is an official Asset of Community Value and it has an ‘Article 4 Direction’ against demolition of change of use.

More background on the campaign is here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/save_the_wheatsheaf_updates

The latest threat to the future of the Wheatsheaf is an application put in by the owners to create 9 flats in the two floors above the pub. One floor was being used as a venue for community use and musicians practise area and the current tenants of the pub were hoping to renovate these rooms as more venues for community use.

The proposal for flats would put a stop to this and more worryingly is a well-worn path by other pubs to eventual closure because of complaints by residents in the flats despite knowing they moved in about a pub. I really don’t want to stand by and see this slowly happen to the Wheatsheaf.

We do need more residential units in Wandsworth, but we also need to protect community amenities and in the case of the Wheatsheaf, with its huge public support, this should take precedence.

I’ve make comments in opposition to the planning application on the Wandsworth Planning portal, and so can you up to August 25th. The application number is 2014/3954. Please do follow this link and make a comment – its a really quick and easy form to fill in:

http://ww3.wandsworth.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/GeneralSearch.aspx